The Word Made Fresh
1“Look! The day is coming, burning like an oven, when the arrogant ones and the ones who practice wickedness will be nothing. That day will burn them up,” says the LORD Almighty, “and leave nothing to them. 2But those of you who respect my name will see the sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings. And you will go leaping joyfully like new calves from the stalls. 3And you will walk over the wicked on the day I take action,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be like ashes under your feet. 4Remember what my servant Moses taught you – all the laws and regulations I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
5“Look! I am sending the prophet Elijah to you before that great and tumultuous day of the LORD arrives. 5He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents so that I need never come to strike the land with a curse.”
1-4: These verses basically repeat the prophecy of chapter 3. There, it was said that the king to come will be like a refiner’s fire (3:2); here it is said that day will be “burning like an oven.” The righteous will be rewarded and the wicked put in their proper place (as in 3:18).
5-6: The coming of Elijah is a new idea. The last time Elijah was mentioned was at 2 Chronicles 21:12. None of the other prophets imagined his reappearance. Why does Malachi think Elijah will appear again? Perhaps because Elijah did not die but was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Perhaps it was Elijah’s defeat of the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel that makes him a logical choice to be the one to straighten out the priesthood in days to come. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the return of Elijah (Matthew 11:14). Matthew 16:14 reports that some of the people thought Jesus is the reincarnation of Elijah, and Elijah actually appears with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). Elijah will be the one to reconnect the generations of God’s people. Turning the hearts of parents to their children means the parents will be diligent in teaching the children the ways of God. Turning the hearts of children to their parents means the children will be attentive to the teaching.
And so, the prophetic witness of the Old Testament comes to an end. God will see to it that, just as in the past, a redeemer will arise in the future to rescue God’s people and assure God’s continuing relationship with us humans.
You have come to the end of the Old Testament – give yourself a reward! And now tomorrow we’ll move on to the New Testament.